Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reviews of The Starving

If you like horror in the style of the fabled H.P. Lovecraft, check out The Starving. This short story puts an even more horrific spin on an already grim historical incident involving Captain John Smith, but Disney's Pocahontas this is not! Instead, it's a well-researched -- and imagined -- tale of gruesome and supernatural goings-on at Jamestown, told in the classic journal entry-style of Stoker or the aforementioned Lovecraft. Author Richard Badalamente knows both his history and his genre fiction, and this is a creepy, intelligent homage, finely calibrated and concluding on just the right note. Subtle, spooky fun for the discriminating lover of chills that sneak up in the night, teeth bared. Pull your feet up under the covers when you read. Frank Booth

If you want to get your bit of horror shiver along with your education try this short story "The Starving". Mr. Badalamente combines some good academics in using original journals as a source for some revelations about our forefathers at Jamestown during the winter of 1609-10, called "the time of starving" with some good story telling. If your're squeamish you might want to pass up this story as some of the detail reporting from our ancestors, although written under earlier spelling rules, is graphic. I'd say if you ever ate brains and eggs, you'd do ok with the read. Betty J. Roop

The Starving, by Richard Badalamente, is a short novel that draws the reader in quickly through the author's comfortable writing style and a story that incites the reader's interest from the start. Based on historical accounts and written in a journal style appropriate for the times, the novel transports the reader to this place and time and, for this reader, produced dual/competing feelings of horror and curiosity. I suspect that most readers -- like myself -- would really like to find out more about what really happened in 1609-1610 Jamestown! While this book is certainly not for children, I wouldn't be surprised if it could become popular with high school kids because of its incorporation of the spirit world into the story.... Who knows: In the process, the book might also generate an interest in anthropology and forensics! Frank L. Greitzer

Wow! What a story! "The Starving" is a haunting and scary story. It would be especially appropriate for Halloween, but It would be timely at any time one wants to read in the suspenseful style of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1840).

Those who know of the early colonial settlement that took place at Jamestown, Virginia, will find that its archeology, history, and physical anthropology ring true in "The Starving." The structure of the story is sound. The characters are engaging, except for the sadly vindictive ghost. But her pain and frustration are understandable. The narrative is certainly an interesting one, and it fits the horror of starvation. A once sweet and caring woman becomes a horrible, revengeful creature as a ghost.

Picking it up, I was fascinated with the story and stayed with it to the end. Its finale I fear might continue to haunt me. I am careful about my thoughts before going to sleep at night in the hope of positively, rather than negatively, influencing whatever dreams I might have. I do not want that ghost to visit me. But if she does, could we negotiate? I have full sympathy with her suffering. I have empathy!

Captain John Smith, and no doubt other Jamestown leaders, would seem to have had a lot for which to answer. Did the brutality of Smith's ethnocentrism in European-Indian relations lead to starvation? Why did he not do all he could to get along with the relevant American Indians - for food, if nothing else? Common sense seems to have been greatly lacking. It was scarce.

Read "The Starving"and be haunted. Read it and be frightened. Read it, and you may think of Edgar Allan Poe. That would not be surprising, as I have said. The Poe comparison is a tribute to the author of "The Starving," Richard Badalamente. Read it, and you will enjoy it because it certainly is a good, hair-raising read. Larry Van Horn, Ph.D., Cultural Anthropologist, Littleton, Colorado, USA

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Art Imitates Life -- Again

In a confidential report to be presented to its governing board in March 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will voice its concern that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. It’s unusual for the IAEA to be so blunt when it comes to the nuclear programs of its member states -- Iran became a member state in 1958.

Japanese lawyer and diplomat, Yukiya Amano, is the new Director General of the IAEA.

Iran's Safeguards Agreement came into effect in May 1974, under which Iran, as party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), agreed to declare its nuclear activities and allow inspections by IAEA inspectors.

Iran has violated its agreement and the subsidiary arrangements associated with it on a number of occasions that we know about. The most recent discovery was the enrichment facility being built near Qom on a mountaintop missile site of the former Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Construction on the secret facility probably started in mid-2006.

Iran’s decades long nuclear weapons development efforts are the backdrop for my novel, The Lion and the Sun. The primary action takes place in 1994, when, believe it or not, we already knew a lot about Iran’s nuclear weapons sites. The latest revelations about the enrichment facility northeast of Qom are not really revelations at all. This was also a period when ‘loose nucs’ in the Former Soviet Union were an urgent concern of the US Intelligence Community. The action in The Lion and the Sun begins with the discovery that a plutonium pit, the key component of a nuclear warhead, is missing from a Russian weapons lab.

There are flash backs in the novel to 1978-79, when the novel’s protagonist, Daniel Conte, a CIA operative, was working under cover as a member of a US Military Assistance Advisory Group. He was lucky to escape being taken hostage during the takeover of the American Embassy by Iranian militants. Not everyone was so lucky, including a young woman Conte recruited as an intelligence asset and with whom he was having an affair. Conte is haunted by the incident.

An epilogue brings the story up to 2008, when Conte discovers the fate of an MI6 agent with whom he worked to thwart the terrorist plot to obtain the nuclear weapons component.

Although on its surface, The Lion and the Sun is a story about espionage, it is really the story about a person beginning to question the sacrifices he’s made in the name of duty, honor, country. It is a story of intrigue, betrayal, and regret set against the threat of nuclear terrorism. It is a story that could be taken from today’s headlines, if only one could read between the lines.